It broke my heart to see Kynlee so upset. This was totally avoidable, had the surgery been done prior to the transfer. I blamed Dr. Adams for this mess. If anything happens to Kedron, we will be going after her for damages. Sadly, money won't fix the issues or bring him back if he doesn't survive.
Dr. Kuntz looked at me and then at Kynlee before he explained, "I understand you are Kedron's only living relative, so I need to know if you want us to operate?"
Kynlee's eyes went wide and her lips parted as she asked, "what are the alternatives?"
Dr. Kuntz unfolded a metal folding chair and sat next to me, but facing Lee. He took a deep breath and then met her eyes to answer, "the options would be to operate and hope it helps when we remove the pressure from the spinal cord. Or, we could leave the cervical collar on and see if he improves without intervention. The last option would be to take him off the ventilator and see if he can breath on his own and if not, allow him to pass naturally."
Kynlee gasped, "you mean just let him die?!?"
Dr. Kunitz looked taken aback at the surprise and almost protectiveness in her voice. He met my eyes as if searching for help in how to field this response. I stroked Lee's hair before nodding slightly at Dr. Kuntz and explaining in a calm, low voice, "Lee, he isn't suggesting that's what you should do. Dr. Kuntz is simply informing you of the options." I paused to let her think about what was said but was unsure if I should continue. Finally I decided she would likely want to know, so I explained, "Lee, some people have health care directives we have to follow. Sometimes people are adamant they do not want to be intubated or don't want a ventilator. Occasionally we have families with religious beliefs that don't allow certain procedures or interventions. As doctors, we can only do and say so much. The choices are up to the individual and/or their family or their healthcare directive. Does that make sense?" I asked as I held her hand. Lee simply nodded. "Personally, I think Dr. Kuntz has done a good job of investigating and taking care of Kedron. I have no qualms about his approach or his interventions."
Dr. Kuntz nods, gives a slight smile, but looks almost embarrassed by my comment. "Do you need some time to think or talk over the options," Dr. Kuntz asked.
"No, we need to do the fusion surgery that should have been done in the first place," Kynlee answered with confidence she likely doesn't feel. She takes a breath and the looking at Dr. Kuntz, she says, "This is so frustrating for me, but I'm not upset with you doctor."
Dr. Kuntz nodded and gave a slight smile, "I understand what you're saying. Unfortunately we cannot go back in time. All we can do is make the most of what is. I will see when the next available surgery time is and let you know." He stood, folded his chair, put it away, and exited the room.
Kynlee sighed and looked at me. I simply met her gaze and waited for her to talk. She obviously had a lot on her mind right now. "I simply cannot comprehend how anyone can put money, personal profit, before someone else's well being," she said quietly.
I nodded before pointing out, "if you look at the corporate world, it happens a lot. Don't get me wrong, there are many rich people and huge corporations that help the less fortunate. The real question is, would they be that rich if they were really helping?"
"I've always thought that with wealth come great responsibility. People who are poor don't have money to found companies and pay employees. It's the wealthy that allow the rest of us to make a living." Lee looked up and met my eyes before continuing, "so they assume a lot of risk. If we or the government takes too much of their profits, they may close their companies or worse yet, move them over seas. That certainly wouldn't benefit those of us needing jobs."
"Touché Ms. Knutson, touché," I say with a smile.
Kynlee turns a weak, fleeting smile my way. I tend to forget how young my sweet woman is. She is so much more mature than most her age. Of course once someone becomes an adult, age gaps really shouldn't matter if you can make it a healthy, happy relationship. That's my belief anyway. In fact, I intend to try to do just that with Kynlee.
Dr. Kuntz comes back after a few minutes, stands just inside the blue curtain, and says, "I have good news and bad news. We've a surgical suite available, but no Neurosurgeon since we are down two doctors. The soonest I can get Kedron to surgery is tomorrow morning."
Kynlee gasps and her hand flies over her mouth. She then looks back up at Dr. Kuntz and asks, "will he make it until tomorrow morning?"
"I don't have any definite answers Ms. Knutson, I'm sorry. If we are doing surgery, it would be in his best interest to do it as soon as possible, but then I'm an Emergency Physician, not a surgeon," Dr. Kuntz replied with a sad look.
I had to something or she could well lose her brother. I cleared my throat, "if a surgeon were able to operate, would there be a surgical team available?"
"Yes Dr. Teton. Dr. Armani's team is on call and Dr. Adams' team is back up. Unfortunately neither have a surgeon right now. Do you have a suggestion where we could maybe find a Neurosurgeon on short notice?" Dr. Kuntz studied my face and met my eyes.
I nodded and gave the choice to my love, "Lee, do you want me to operate or stay by your side?"
Kynlee looked at me for a bit before answering, "if you aren't too tired, Id ask you to operate. As much as I want you by my side, if we do nothing and lose Kedron, I'd never forgive myself."
I simply nod to her and continue to meet her her eyes as I decree, "Dr. Kuntz, if you can find me a team, I'll do the operation on Kedron."
"Very well Dr. Teton. I'll get my nurses on it right away. Hopefully we will be ready within the hour. Thank you Dr. Teton for helping out."
I nod again, but continue eye contact with Kynlee as I answer, "It's my pleasure to help out where I can."
Dr. Kuntz left to go make arrangements, or rather instruct his nurses or secretary to do so.
Still holding her brother's hand, Kynlee rested her head on my shoulder and nuzzled into me similar to a cat. I smiled as I thought, no wonder her and Sammy get along so well.
We remained like this, cuddling next to Kedron's cot until we were startled by a nurse coming in. "Hello Kedron," she announced as she approached the bed. "My name is Marsha. I'm a nurse, and I'll be preparing you for surgery this evening." Nurse Marsha charted what I assumed were vital signs, ventilator readings, and who knows what else before returning to the bedside across the gurney from us. Throwing a flirting smile my way, Nurse Marsha tells Kedron, "you're lucky to have a world renowned surgeon step up and do your surgery Kedron. If anyone can help you, it's Dr. Teton."
Nurse Marsha did almost everything but wink at me and flash me. How the heck do I put a stop to this? It hit me all of a sudden as I began, "Nurse Marsha, I'd like you to meet my girlfriend, Kynlee Knutson, the patient's sister." I raised my eyebrows at Nurse Marsha who got a sheepish look on her face.
"I mean no disrespect Dr. Teton. I'm sorry Mam for flirting with your boyfriend. It won't happen again."
Kynlee met my gaze before meeting Marsha's and nodding. I was hoping that word would now spread that I had a girlfriend and everyone would back off. I simply wasn't interested in anyone else, and all the attention made me uncomfortable. This way, Lee knew I was serious, and hopefully everyone else would get the message.
About half an hour after Dr. Kuntz had left to make arrangements, two nurses in partial surgical gear stepped into the ED bay to take Kedron back to the surgical suite to prep. Kynlee stood and kissed her brother on the forehead with a quick, "I love you K. Be strong and hurry back to me."
As the nurses wheeled Kedron out, Kynlee turned her body toward mine until we were chest to chest and sobbed with her head on my chest. I stroked her hair with one hand and held her tightly against me with the other. "I need you to know Kynlee, that this surgery isn't without risks. Anytime we have to touch the spinal cord, like removing the bone piece embedded, it can go good or really badly. I don't want to scare you, but you need to understand this is not an easy surgery. Just in case things don't go as planned."
"I understand Wam. Thank you for giving him a fighting chance," she said with a squeeze around my waist and what sounded like a hiccup at the end.
"You gonna be okay while I'm gone beautiful," I asked with worry.
"I'll be waiting in the waiting room when you are finished Wam. Just do your best. I'll be relieved when the surgery is over."